For the past several years, I have read aloud books to my boys at the beginning of each school day. I’ve been doing this ever since I was encouraged to do so by hearing talks by Andrew Pudewa of Institute for Excellence in Writing and Sally Clarkson of Whole Heart Ministries.
Reading books aloud will take your family on a magical journey. Even after our kids are able to read on their own, we should continue to read books aloud to them. Try to read books to them which are just a little bit above the level which they can comfortably read on their own.
These books are an excellent source of reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns. Hearing the English language in this way will help our kids to increase their vocabulary and to recognize proper English when they hear it!
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Some of the read-aloud books below are our family favorites. Some of them are favorites recommended by my readers. I hope that this guide will help you find just the right books for your boys! Enjoy!
The Abernathy Boys is another high adventure about two brothers – Bud, age 9, and Temp, age 5. These boys are determined to see the Old West and they set out to cross it on their own. Oh, by the way… This book is based on a true story!
Ace: The Very Important Pig is about a pig who understands the human language and replies to Farmer Tubbs with one grunt for yes and two for no. Soon he is quite a house-pig enjoying TV and sitting in the farmer’s chair.
Adventures with Waffles is a heartwarming book about the friendship of Trille and Lena who are constantly on adventures that often ends in trouble. Whether it’s coaxing a cow onto a boat or sledding down the steepest and iciest hill with a chicken, there is always a thrill—and sometimes an injury—to be had.
A Land Remembered is a sweeping story of rugged Florida history featuring a memorable cast of crusty, indomitable Crackers battling wild animals, rustlers, Confederate deserters, mosquitoes, starvation, hurricanes, and freezes to carve a kingdom out of the swamp. But their most formidable adversary turns out to be greed, including finally their own.
The American Adventure Series is a set of 48 books which follows many generations of one family as they travel to America on the Mayflower all the way through World War 2. We loved every book in this series. It gave us a great overview of American History and it was awesome to see God’s hands in the events that shaped our nation.
Anne of Green Gables is a classic story that will be enjoyed by the whole family. When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island, send for a boy orphan to help them out at the farm, they are in no way prepared for the error that will change their lives. The mistake takes the shape of Anne Shirley, a redheaded 11-year-old girl who can talk anyone under the table. Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination quickly win over her reluctant foster parents. Anne’s feisty spirit soon draws many friends–and much trouble–her way. Not a day goes by without some melodramatic new episode in the tragicomedy of her life.
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain is such a fun book. “There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain. No bears, no bears at all…” This book tells the tale of Jonathan who has to travel over Hemlock Mountain all alone. A great tale of bravery!
Because of Winn Dixie – One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie.
The BFG – The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!
The Box Car Children – The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process, they find a grandfather. Tag along with the Alden children as they solve mystery after mystery.
Boy and Going Solo – Where did Roald Dahl get all of his wonderful ideas for stories? From his own life, of course! Boy includes tales of sweet shops and chocolate, mean old ladies, and the Great Mouse Plot. And then Going Solo tells of how, when he grew up, Roald Dahl left England for Africa and later went flying with the Royal Air Force. Roald Dahl’s personal stories together in one edition!
The Bronze Bow is the story of 18-year-old Daniel, an Israelite who is furious with the Romans after they kill his father. He is determined to avenge his father’s death – until he begins to hear the stories of a traveling carpenter. This is a powerful book!
Bud, Not Buddy – A 10-year-old boy in Depression-era Michigan who lives in various foster homes sets out to find the man he believes to be his father. While Bud’s circumstances are harsh, they are portrayed with hope and humor.
By the Great Horn Spoon – In this rollicking adventure set during the California Gold Rush, Jack’s aunt is forced to sell her beloved mansion to meet her debts. She is still unable to raise enough money to pay her creditors, and twelve-year-old Jack goes to California in search of gold to help her. Joined by his trusty butler, Praiseworthy, Jack finds adventure and trouble at every turn. Will Jack strike gold in San Francisco or come home empty-handed?
Call It Courage – Mafatu has been afraid of the sea for as long as he can remember. Though his father is the Great Chief of Hikueru – an island whose seafaring people worship courage – Mafatu feels like an outsider. Then at age fifteen, no longer willing to put up with the ridicule and jibes, Mafatu decides to take his fate into his own hands. With his dog, Uri, as his companion, Mafatu paddles out to sea, ready to face his fears.
Call of the Wild – Buck, who is shipped to the Klondike to be trained as a sled dog, eventually reverts to his primitive, wolflike ancestry. He then undertakes an almost mythical journey, abandoning the safety of his familiar world to encounter danger, adventure, and fantasy. When he is transformed into the legendary “Ghost Dog” of the Klondike, he has become a true hero.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch – Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in Salem, Massachusetts in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by log, lead, and lookout.
Castle in the Attic – William has just received the best present of his life—an old, real-looking stone and wooden model of a castle, with a drawbridge, a moat, and a finger-high knight to guard the gates. It’s the mysterious castle his housekeeper has told him about, and even though William is sad she’s leaving, now the castle is his! William can’t wait to play with the castle—he’s certain there’s something magical about it. And sure enough, when he picks up the tiny silver knight, it comes alive in his hand! Sir Simon tells William a mighty story of wild sorcery, wizards, and magic. And suddenly William is off on a fantastic quest to another land and another time—where a fiery dragon and an evil wizard are waiting to do battle.
Cat of Bubastes – Chebron, the young son of an Egyptian high priest, and Amuba, a young slave in the boy’s household, are close friends; but their lives are greatly altered when Chebron accidentally kills a cat, an animal held sacred by the ancient Egyptians. Forced to flee for their safety, the boys and their companions begin a long and dangerous journey. A thrilling adventure story, this is also a tale packed with historical facts. Among other fascinating details, young readers learn about the Egyptian religion and geography, how the Nile was used for irrigation, and how the Egyptians made war and were prepared for burial.
Cheaper by the Dozen – No growing pains have ever been more hilarious than those suffered loudly by the riotous Gilbreth clan. First, there are a dozen red-haired, freckle-faced kids to contend with. Then there’s Dad, a famous efficiency expert who believes a family can be run just like a factory. Finally, there’s Mother, his partner in everything except discipline. How they all survive such escapades as forgetting Frank Jr. in a roadside restaurant or going on a first date with Dad in the backseat or having their tonsils removed en masse will keep you in stitches.
The Children’s Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy is a stunning adventure with all of the drama and power that Homer intended. This book allows you to travel back to a mythical time when Achilles, aided by the gods, waged war against the Trojans.
The Chronicles of Narnia – Epic battles between good and evil, fantastic creatures, betrayals, heroic deeds, and friendships won and lost all come together in this unforgettable world, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years.
The Cricket In Times Square – Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City―the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides―and friends―than Tucker and Harry.
Dangerous Journey – The world-famous, much-loved classic Pilgrim’s Progress is here retold for children. This abridged version uses the original words of John Bunyan as selected by Oliver Hunkin to present a gripping narrative.
The Discworld Series – The beginning of the hilarious and irreverent series that has more than 80 million copies worldwide, The Color of Magic is where we meet tourist Twoflower and wizard guide, Ricewind, and follow them on their always-bizarre journeys. The author of this series, who has been compared to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams, Sir Terry Pratchett, has created a complex, yet zany world filled with a host of unforgettable characters who navigate around a profound fantasy universe, complete with its own set of cultures and rules.
The Dog Crusoe – This is a story of an adventure involving a young man, his dog, and two friends. Together they wander through the Western prairies on a mission to make peace between the “pale-faces” and the “Red Men”. They face many perils and become heroes many times over. This wonderful story takes the characters (and the reader) on an action-packed journey through the Western prairies during the times when relations between the white man and the Natives were not always peaceful.
Elijah of Buxton is another excellent story. Elijah is an 11-year-old boy who lives in a settlement of runaway slaves in Canada – near the American border. This book is a great way to teach your boys about the horrors of slavery. Such a touching story!
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the serious cash flow problem she invites him along. Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie, find themselves caught up in a mystery.
In Freedom’s Cause – A Story of Wallace and Bruce is the gripping tale of the 13th-century rebellion of the people of Scotland. Though time has burnished the feats of these great heroes, Wallace and Bruce were real people whose courage, loyalty and ingenuity are inspirational even today. The story is full of adventure, friendship, loyalty, honor, heroics, and history.
The Green Ember – Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world. Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend. Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?
Hank the Cowdog – The popular Hank the Cowdog series is based on the humorous antics of the canine Head of Ranch Security. In this first book, Hank and his little buddy, Drover, set out to solve a series of baffling murders on the ranch. Is Hank a suspect? An Outlaw? Can he clear his good name?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.
The Hiding Place is a wonderful book to teach your boys about the horrors of World War 2. Reading this book to my boys changed ME! Corrie ten Boom does an excellent job of detailing how God was at work in her life and the lives around her. Have kleenexes handy when you read this… but read it!
The Hobbit – Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.
Homer Price – Welcome to Centerburg! Where you can win a hundred dollars by eating all the doughnuts you want; where houses are built in a day; and where a boy named Homer Price can foil four slick bandits using nothing but his wits and his pet skunk.
The Invisible Man – Set in turn-of-the-century England, the story focuses on Griffin, a scientist who has discovered the means to make himself invisible. His initial, almost comedic, adventures are soon overshadowed by the bizarre streak of terror he unleashes upon the inhabitants of a small village.
Island of the Blue Dolphins – This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
Journey to the Center of the Earth – German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the center of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans descend into the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull, encountering many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano.
Kingdom’s Dawn – A Riveting Medieval Parallel to the Bible Good and evil clash. Leinad and Cedric are determined to not only survive but claim hope and victory! In Kingdom’s Dawn, Leinad and Tess, along with all the king’s people, must escape slavery by the powerful Lord Fairos. Kingdom’s Hope finds them free and arriving in the Chessington Valley. But when they forget the king, will Kergon and the Kessons capture them for good?
The Lamplighter is the tale of Gerty, a mistreated and abandoned young girl, who develops a bad temper. Through the story, Gerty learns many wonderful lessons from the meek and gentle lamplighter. An immediate best seller in 1854! Definitely worth reading.
The Land of Stories: Wishing Spell – The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.
Little Britches series – Ralph Moody was eight years old in 1906 when his family moved from New Hampshire to a Colorado ranch. Through his eyes, we experience the pleasures and perils of ranching there early in the twentieth century. Auctions and roundups, family picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and wind storms give authentic color to Little Britches. So do adventures, wonderfully told, that equip Ralph to take his father’s place when it becomes necessary. (Amazing books but there is a little bit of language you might want to skip over – which is why these are best as read aloud selections)
Little House on the Prairie series – When Laura Ingalls Wilder first wrote of her experiences growing up in the 1800s, no one could have predicted the impact her stories would have on generations of children to come! Follow Laura’s life from the glorious days spent tucked in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, all the way through to her marriage to Almanzo and the birth of her own little girl.
Little Men is a fun book filled with the adventures of Jo and her boys at Plumfield Estate School. Your sons will be able to identify with one or more of the boys at the school. We read Little Women first; however, I don’t think that would be a requirement. We loved this book! Funny!
Lord of the Nutcracker Men – Ten-year-old Johnny eagerly plays at war with the army of nutcracker soldiers his toymaker father whittles for him. He demolishes imaginary foes. But in 1914 Germany looms as the real enemy of Europe, and all too soon Johnny’s father is swept up in the war to end all wars. He proudly enlists with his British countrymen to fight at the front in France. The war, though, is nothing like what any soldier or person at home expected.
Lord of the Rings – The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider. This is one of my all-time favorites.
Mary Poppins – For all her offended sniffs and humphs, Mary Poppins is likely the most exciting nanny England–and the world–has ever seen. Young Jane and Michael Banks have no idea what’s in store for them when Mary Poppins blows in on the east wind one autumn evening. Soon, though, the children are having tea on the ceiling, flying around the world in a minute (visiting polar bears and hyacinth macaws on the way), and secretly watching as their unusual nanny pastes gold paper stars to the sky. Mary’s stern and haughty exterior belies the delightful nonsense she harbors; her charges, as well as her literary fans, respect and adore her.
Matilda – Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different, but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle – that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
Mountain Born – Wolves, weather, a black lamb, a trusty dog all are part of Peter’s life on a mountain farm. For Elizabeth Yates, the story of Peter and his little black cosset began long before she ever wrote it. In her early years, the life on her father’s large farm gave her a feeling for the land, for animals, and for the people who have both in their care. Many of her experiences found their way into the story, including the joy she felt when she could bury her nose in her own sweater, made of wool spun as it came from the sheep’s back.
My Family and Other Animals – When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrell’s family’s experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home.
My Father’s Dragon – A favorite of young readers since the 1940s, this book captures the nonsensical logic of childhood in an amusingly deadpan fashion. The story begins when Elmer Elevator (the narrator’s father as a boy) runs away with an old alley cat to rescue a flying baby dragon being exploited on a faraway island. With the help of two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb, Elmer disarms the fiercest of beasts on Wild Island.
My Side of the Mountain – Terribly unhappy in his family’s crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude and danger of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.
The One and Only Ivan – Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself. Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
Owls in the Family is another fun book about a boy and his pets… two of which just happen to be owls. This book is full of adventure and surprises!
The Princess Bride is the hilarious adventure of Wesley and Buttercup. Filled with swashbuckling sword fights, pirates, and giants. Super funny! And be sure to watch the movie after you finish the book!
The Railway Children – When Father is taken away unexpectedly, Roberta, Peter, Phyllis and their mother have to leave their comfortable life in London to go and live in a small cottage in the country. The children seek solace in the nearby railway station and make friends with Perks the Porter and the Station Master himself. Each day, Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis run down the field to the railway track and wave at the passing London train, sending their love to Father. Little do they know that the kindly old gentleman passenger who waves back holds the key to their father’s disappearance.
Rainbow Garden – When Elaine leaves her home in London to stay with the Owen family in Wales, she feels miserable and left out. It’s only the little secret garden that she finds at the end of the rainbow that makes staying there seem worthwhile. And then something happens that changes everything.
The Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape from the Tower of London – It’s 1735. Forrest Harper’s life inside the Tower of London consists of three ways to pass the time: chores, chores, and more chores. His only friends are the spirited ravens he tends with his father. So when vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest can’t wait to prove himself by standing guard. If only Forrest’s prisoner hadn’t turned out to be the noble and daring Maddy. And if only Maddy wasn’t about to be executed. Now, as Forrest chooses between friendship and family, safety and escape, he and Maddy must flee, somehow navigating the cold, dank corridors of the Tower.
Redwall – What can the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey do to defend themselves against Cluny the Scourge and his battle-seasoned army of rats? If only they had the sword of Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance. But the legendary weapon has long been forgotten except, that is, by the bumbling young apprentice Matthias, who becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. Teeming with riddles, humor, unforgettable characters, and high-bounding adventure.
Rolf and the Viking Bow – Rolf, son of Hiarandi the Unlucky, is a character who exemplifies the effect of Christ’s teachings upon the Icelandic people during their heroic age. The book is set in Iceland in the days when Christianity has come to the island though the old customs still linger. Hiarandi, at the urging of his wife, does an unprecedented thing: he lights a signal fire on a dangerous point of his land, thereby challenging the accepted custom which places lucrative salvage at a higher value than the saving of life. However, the life that is saved that night causes his own death and the unjust outlawing of his son Rolf. Rolf’s response to this injustice creates a suspenseful, thought-provoking tale difficult to put down.
Sign of the Beaver – Although he faces responsibility bravely, thirteen-year-old Matt is more than a little apprehensive when his father leaves him alone to guard their new cabin in the wilderness. When a renegade white stranger steals his gun, Matt realizes he has no way to shoot game or to protect himself. When Matt meets Attean, a boy in the Beaver clan, he begins to better understand their way of life and their growing problem in adapting to the white man and the changing frontier.
Son of Charlemagne – The year is A.D. 781. King Charles of the Franks is crossing the Alps with his family and court on a journey to meet with Pope Hadrian. One frosty night he speaks to his young son Carl: When we come to Rome you will know that I am naming you my heir. One day you will rule over all my lands. . . . But the King already had an heir, Pepin the Hunchback, mockingly called Gobbo. Was he to be dispossessed? Yet Carl sees that Charlemagne is determined to do what he feels is best to serve God and Europe.
Spiderwick Chronicles – It all started with a mysterious letter left at a tiny bookstore for authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Its closing lines: “We just want people to know about this. The stuff that has happened to us could happen to anyone.” Little could they imagine the remarkable adventure that awaited them as they followed Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace and a strange old book into a world filled with elves, goblins, dwarves, trolls, and a fantastical menagerie of other creatures. The oddest part is in entering that world, they didn’t leave this one!
Stories from Old Squire’s Farm – Written one hundred years ago, this collection of rich tales follows the lives of six young children living in rural Maine after the Civil War. “Some of the very best stories of New England life and character that have ever been written.” — Hartford Daily Courant
Swallows and Amazons – Let the adventure begin. Imagine sailing over to a semi-deserted island on a dinghy with your siblings and camping. Wouldn’t that be fun? Well, that’s what the Walker children did and what’s more, they met the Blackett children and together they had lots of outdoor adventures together… without their parents! They even met an unfriendly pirate, Captain Flint, who had the parrot, a brass cannon, and a boat.
Swamp Cat – The friendship between a feral cat and the last remaining member of an old backcountry family who owns mostly swamp. He decides to try stocking it with muskrats but last remaining member of one of their oldest rival families, the man who left the kitten to die in a sack, decides to sabotage the venture by trapping them all before enough have bred.
Swiss Family Robinson – Following a wild and raging storm, the Swiss Family Robinson are stranded at sea. But the thundering waves have swept them off to a tropical island, where a new life awaits them. Their ship is laden with supplies and the island is packed with treasures, so they soon adapt and discover new dangers and delights every day.
Treasure Island – Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of “buccaneers and buried gold”. Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an “X”, schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders. Treasure Island is traditionally considered a coming-of-age story and is noted for its atmosphere, characters, and action.
The Trumpeter of Krakow – Forced to abandon their farm to the invading Tartars, Joseph Charnetski and his parents flee to Krakow with the only thing that they managed to salvage —a priceless family heirloom called the Great Tarnov Crystal. Reputed to have strange magical powers that will guarantee victory to anyone who possesses it, the Crystal must be delivered to the king before it falls into the wrong hands. Only the inspiring example of the young trumpeter to Krakow, who met his death when he alerted the city to an invasion by the Tartars, gives Joseph the courage he needs to complete his mission.
Trumpet of the Swan – Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – This is the classic story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus, as seen from the perspective of Professor Pierre Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on their ship. On the Nautilus, the three embark on a journey which has them going all around the world, under the sea.
War Horse – In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?
War of the Worlds – The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines – the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine – they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come.
Watership Down – Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
Where the Red Fern Grows – Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.
White Fang – The story takes place in Yukon Territory, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush and details White Fang’s journey to domestication. It is a companion novel (and a thematic mirror) to London’s best-known work, The Call of the Wild, which is about a kidnapped, domesticated dog embracing his wild ancestry to survive and thrive in the wild. Much of White Fang is written from the viewpoint of the titular canine character, enabling London to explore how animals view their world and how they view humans. White Fang examines the violent world of wild animals and the equally violent world of humans. The book also explores complex themes including morality and redemption.
With Pipe, Paddle, and Song – A sixteen-year-old lad, who can paddle, sing, and swim, signs a three-year contract as a voyageur and joins an expedition to north-west Canada in 1750 to search for furs and his future.
Wulf the Saxon – Return to the days of the Norman invasion of England and fight alongside a nobleman serving the last of England’s Anglo-Saxon monarchs. Wulf of Steyning, a Saxon thane loyal to King Harold Godwinson, boldly captures a castle in the Welsh wars, risks his life to rescue his shipwrecked sovereign, and combats Norsemen at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Wulf and his comrades resolutely stand by King Harold in a series of adventures that climax at the Battle of Hastings.
When we choose books filled with adventure, humor, and intrigue, we are much more likely to keep our boys on the edges of their seats. I hope this guide helps you to find a book or two that you and your boys will enjoy!
Question: If your boys have any other read aloud books that they love, please share them below. Thank-you! 🙂
And be sure to check out the other great Reading List posts from iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.